Elon Musk has accused Twitter of “unwarranted requests to preempt” a trial to determine whether it should be forced into a $44 billion deal to buy the social media company.
Musk has proposed that the trial begin in February at the earliest, according to a court filing by his lawyers on Friday. That’s a few months later than the September time that Twitter is seeking in its lawsuit, which was filed in Delaware court just days after Musk announced his intention to terminate the contract.
Lawyers representing the Tesla CEO said in a 16-page response to Twitter’s lawsuit Friday that the issue of spam accounts on the network — one of the main reasons Musk has cited for trying to step down — is “fundamental.” for the case and called for a lengthy investigation and “considerable time for discovery.”
Musk’s lawyers described the proposed trial date and Twitter’s suggestion that it could be completed in four days as a “breakneck schedule.”
“Twitter’s sudden warp speed claim after two months of dragging and obfuscating is its latest tactic to obscure the truth about spam accounts long enough to force the defendants to shut down,” the filing said.
A hearing on the matter is expected to take place on Tuesday. Twitter declined to comment.
In a lawsuit, the social media company accused Musk, the world’s richest man, of trying to get out of the business amid a slump in tech stocks that has hurt the value of Twitter and a number of similar companies. On July 8, when Musk announced his intention to exit the $54.20-per-share deal, the stock fell to $36.81.
In a case that has captivated the corporate world, Musk’s defense rests on his ability to convince the court that the issue of bots — automated spam accounts — on the platform is much bigger than previously disclosed and represents a “significant adverse effect” that would caused the possibility to resign from the business.
Musk argued that Twitter breached the merger agreement by failing to share enough information about fake accounts, a claim reiterated in Friday’s filing that again called into question the company’s long-standing estimate that bots make up less than 5 percent of users.
After a meeting between Musk and Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, “Musk was stunned to discover that Twitter’s process for identifying spam email accounts relied on human screeners observing a small portion of its user base, rather than using the company’s machine learning capabilities,” the filing said. .
In its lawsuit, Twitter argued that Musk was well aware of the site’s bot problem, pointing to tweets Musk had posted highlighting the issue before the deal.
The social network also accused Musk of violating the terms of the merger agreement, which required him not to disparage the company by highlighting his tweets that appeared to encourage Twitter management.
In relation to this claim, Musk’s role accused Twitter of not being able to take the joke.
“Twitter’s bot sense of humor claims Musk is harming the company with tweets like Chuck Norris memes and poop emojis,” the filing said. “Twitter is ignoring that Musk is its second-largest shareholder with a much larger economic stake than the entire Twitter board.”
Additional reporting by Hannah Murphy
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